One of Lewisham’s largest comprehensives will forge a partnership with an academy group as part of a ‘school improvement deal’.
Sedgehill School in Catford was branded ‘inadequate’ after an Ofsted report in February of last year found that the quality of teaching, personal development of students and the effectiveness of leadership and assessment were insufficient.
The secondary will enter into a three-year long partnership with United Learning, a nonprofit trust that works to improve educational standards, and will become a sister school to Lambeth Academy. Sister schools are financially connected and can have joint social activities for students.
The report also stated that pupil attendance was lower than average and that not all staff demonstrated an awareness of current statutory guidance. Concerns were raised over poor behaviour after inspectors received reports from students that regular fights were taking place at Sedgehill.
Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “Our priority continues to be improving education for present and future students at Sedgehill School.”
Maslin added that the council is “pleased” to be partnering with Lambeth Academy and that United Learning has, “a strong reputation and track record of improving schools in inner London.”
An interim executive board (IEB) was put in place at Sedgehill in November after a follow-up report found that although there had been improvements in GCSE results, the school fell behind as a whole.
Sedgehill is not becoming an academy and it will remain the responsibility of Lewisham Council as a community school. Academies are funded by the central government and are typically overseen by a trust to provide advice, support and strategic overview.
In a letter sent to parents about the transition on June 29, parents were assured the deal “means that the school can access the support it needs and achieve certainty and continuity in its leadership.”
The letter, signed by chair of the IEB, Irene Cleaver, reads: “We are writing to you to let you know that from September 1, 2017, Sedgehill School will move on to the next stage in its school improvement journey.
“Since the Ofsted judgement last year, there has been a period of uncertainty for the school and we are grateful to Mrs Julia Scannell, [chief executive officer] and Mr Andrew Milliken [head of school] and all the staff for continuing to move the school forward during this difficult period. However the partnership, which is to begin in September, is set to give pupils, staff and parents some certainty following a year when an academy sponsor had been sought without success.
“Working with the Department of Education and the local authority, we have entered a ‘school improvement’ partnership with United Learning. The trust has a focus on improving schools in areas of deprivation and educational under performance. In the schools it has worked with so far, support from the trust has led to those schools improving rapidly. United Learning is very experienced with working in challenging and diverse inner city areas.”
Current staff are to remain on their same contracts throughout the partnership and a new larger board will be established to oversee the school.